tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe WHUT July 30, 2011 12:30am-1:00am EDT
>> funding for to the contrary provided by: >> the alternative fuel debate is over. this is lexus hybrid technology designed to optimize any fuel conceivable. this pursuit pursuit of perfection. >> additional funding provided by: this week on to the contrary: first, the debt ceiling debate rages on. then, middle aged women and mental health. behind the headlines: paying the poor to end their poverty.
>> hello, i'm donna shalala sitting in for bonnie erbe. welcome to to the contrary, a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, the debt ceiling countdown. >> the debt ceiling debate continues to drag on in washington. but outside of the beltway americans are concerned about the impact drastic reductions in spending will have on jobs and the programs they depend on, as well as the possibility of default. some financial experts believe the united states' credit rating may be downgraded no matter the outcome. that could mean higher interest rates on credit cards, mortgages
and car loans. women's groups continue to voice their concerns over a deal that slashes social security, medicare and medicaid. and if that wasn't enough americans are growing exceedingly unhappy with their lawmakers. a cnn/opinion research poll found 54 percent of people disapproved of the way obama is handling his job and 55 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the republican party. >> eleanor, what is going on in your house? >> when the dust settles on this so-called debate, the response from the american people is likely to be a lot worse than anything we do with the debt ceiling. >> it is likely to be worse but the deal does have the righto elements to it, you'll see businesses start hiring again. right now they are holding on to more cash than ever.
i think this will restore confidence in the economy. >> i think that the question will be, where the focus will be as it relates to job and job creation and that focus will be on small business to drive this economy and also as it relates to government, capping that spending and having to do the real hard work of meeting the cuts. >> i think the damage may have been done and i think that just like we said, there is a possibility of downgrading our aaa. once we do that, we for trouble. because as someone looking to figure out where to invest their money, will it will be in a place where you have governance issues? if you were a ceo and trying to do mergers and acquisitions, do i go elsewhere than the u.s.? >> what happens if you pull that much money out of federal government, though? it seems to be it will have an impact on every part of our society. what impact do you think it will have on women?
>> it's very interesting the so-called debt commission, the one that everybody is so afraid of, said something that the congress and especially the republicans are paying no attention to. they are the ones that want the deep cuts, and they said this. in 2011, cut very little. in 2012 cut more but not much more. you have to do this gradually or they said, you will take us back into recession. one of the reasons you see democrats saying this has to be more balance is that we recognize that the debt has got -- we have to make a strong statement about the debt but we are in the middle of the worst jobs crisis since the great depression and we have a fragile economy. so you have got to handle both of these at the same time whether republicans want to handle one of the levers of our
economy and that's spending and deficit levels. >> i think that, you know, both sides can agree on one thing, it has to be a bipartisan plan and bipartisan solutions. and for one of the things americans don't want to see is all the back and forth, name calling and all the hyperbole about, we are going to kill this bill or we are not going to sign this or that. i think at the end of the day, what the republicans are saying is, we have two amounts. you have the boehner plan and then re plan. 2.2 trillion dollars over 9 years and then another to be determine after we decide on real hard cuts. they do have to be made. the democrats plan talked about making cuts relative to the war. we don't know how long we will be at war. we don't know if we end up in another war. you have to make sure that we are taking into account that real hard cuts have to be made
wherever those are going to be made. i think that is the stumbling block as the president said on friday. there isn't a whole lot of disagreement. there is a little bit of disagreement but not a lot there. there is still some room to be made but there is also agreements. so i think there is some fine-tuning that has to be made but you have two very stark plans with some agreement, some bipartisanship and a little bit further to go before there is a solid decision that and to your point, both plans actually fall short of a $4 trillion deficit in order for us to keep our aaa rating and that is a problem. once we leave it, we basically kiss that good by and i was at the white house recently and they were saying how the rating is the equivalent of a birthright for americans. it makes a lot of sense in the sense that you're talking about making sure that americans can secure loans and they can secure their -- they can secure a pathway to the american dream without that we are in trouble. >> one wonders how much credibility s&p has. >> that's my other point.
that's a point that i wanted to make. >> that's the one group that couldn't recognize a soft loan. >> that's a fair point. >> we have raised 10 times in the last 10 years under the bush administration, republicans and democrats, both all guilty for overspending. we increased spending by over 60%. and we have created this problem for ourselves and if we don't reverse the trajectory of our debt we will see a downgrade. going to your point about losing our aaa rating. this is something that countries have gone through before. canada lost it in 1993 but was able to gain it back in seven years because they took some cutting measures. they did have a little bit of a revenue balance but it was 7-1 they were able to cut the amount they were spending and let's be frank. how do you get into debt? you spend. so we really just need to cut the spending. >> i think again this goes to your point. this underscores how important the so-called ratings are. you can look at it two ways but it underscores the importance testify and also shows how much
power we are willing to yield the government who are determining what our ratings are or rankings are. i think that's a whole issue that may be up for discussion. >> our credit score. >> yes. it is a standard you use, obviously. >> i don't think we are going to be downgraded. and this is why. with all of their bellowing, this is the standard of the world. you downgrade us even after we get an agreement, you downgrade the whole world. i don't think that will happen. i think they will see that both sides are right, something has to be done. i don't think we'll lose our aaa but i think we have come so close that everybody gets it now and all we need to do now is to get the democrats in the senate and baynot in the house in the same room. poor john boehner is negotiating
or as we went on the air, with his own people. look, just come over and talk to the democrats inate and try to get this done. >> and you know, we haven't even had the real debate and that is who pays? who in the end will feel the burden of this? is it going to be the poor? is it going to be the single moms out there? is it going to be people wealthy? >> in both plans currently -- you look both plans will impact social servicetter what you end up with. >> this is going to affect the american people. whether this economy comes back, whether we maintain our credit rating, whether you can afford the things you can now afford, the services we are able to provide. this impacts everyone. and this is why we need the attention of both sides on this issue and to come together to find a solution. >> let's turn to startling statist this week >> middle-aged women are the
most at-risk for suicide attempts, according to a report by the substance abuse and mental health services administration. the report shows a 49 percent increase in emergency room vde attempts for women over the age of 50. and, women between the ages of 40 and 69 are more at risk of suicide than any other group of women. doctors believe there are a number of reasons for this disturbing trend. men are the fastest growing group with treatable mental health conditions. older women may experience depression because of health and life changes.isorder, baby boomers also have high rates of substance abuse. >> gretchen, what can be done to prevent these issues with middle-aged women? >> i don't know. i wish i was a doctor. but i don't know what can be done to prevent it. but i think there is something that shows what is going on with
our society. those hospitals for depression has increased by 40% in 10 years. americans are more depressed than ever. for the first time in generations, americans do not believe their children will be better off than they are. i think this is just speaks to where this nation is right now. we have gone through a economic crisis. we have been at war and we are tired and we are weary and we are down. >> i'm not going to have a little more optimistic notion. i agree but i wonder if women will be less likely to fall into this middle-aged depression. if your life has been tied to your children and to your household and then there comes the empty nest along with menopause. the notion of worthiness comes into play. it seems to me now with the average woman working full-time, these women having had two
lives, got rid of one, said to the kids, bye-bye, now i have the other part of my life, the career part of my life, and i think we might be better off that women are not so locked into the early part of their lives. >> i think it's interesting that these statistics show up across ethnic groups as well. >> and i think part of this too is a lot of women over the 40s are heads of households because their husbands are unemployed and not only are they meeting that pressure of being head of households but also taking care of their parents. that stress of that house recognizing you have elemented income and you have to look at multigenerational resources. that's a lot of pressure. very few people discuss that. >> i would add that i'm not a doctor but i'd like to pretend to be one. if is everything that has been discussed already, essentially you have women who are taking on greater responsibility when husbands and spouses, heads of
households are not working or having a tough time finding jobs. women are having a tough time. unemployment among minorities in particular is double digit. 16% among blacks. women followed in that group as well. it's staggering. that would depress the best of us. even if you are working. even if you are working you have concerns, women have concerns about if they will be able to keep their jobs, if they are able to be able to provide in the environment of the economy as it is right now. and be breadwinner, be mom, be -- even if they are caretakers or even if they are facing empty nest syndrome. you hear those who are in retirement in the 50s and 60s, they can't find jobs and they are not even looking at this the point because they feel like they are being aged out of the market. so i think there are some real concerns while hope springs eternal and i'm one of the
biggest opt midst you will meet. it is very serious right now. from groceries and home prices and all these things that feed into what is on the minds of americans for primarily women who are worry arts any way. i think this exacerbate it. >> with all our wealth we haven't figured out how to give people good mental health coverage. we have a serious weakness in our healthcare system in terms of mental health coverage and prevention. which obviously is part of it. and theistics also show when the economy is down that you have more mental health issues [overlapping speakers] >> given all we said, there are more women than men. we have to consider that. notice how men slip into middle agency and old age and they even have children, something women
can't do when they are in middle age. they get a new wife and decide that they are young again. these are option not available to women. we have got to look at the difference in these rates of mental illness of women and men. that is what is most worrisome. >> speaking of a study that was released last week or the week before. talking about since the recession, those folks who are getting hires are men. why women have lost over 200,000 almost 300,000 jobs. women are losing member jobs while men are gaining. >> women think about their family's health before their own. we not only have a weakness in mental health coverage, but we also have a culture in which women are thinking about everybody else. >> and a stigma. >> a stigma on mental health. >> if you're an accomplished woman who has done a lot and maybe the kids are gone and
it's, what do i do now? you're rethinking your career and restrategizing. go and say, i'm having some mental health issues. i think it still has a stigma attached. >> a lot of it comes -- a big stigma and taboo when it comes to immigrant communities and they cannot be self sustaining. and that's -- for example, the highest suicide rates among teens in new york, 50% of latina young women have tried suicide. much more for the mothers. there is a problem. how do you communicate cross-culturally that there are services available? >> big issue. >> big issue. it is an issue that involves countries that are wealthy. very much countries that are wealthy and our ability to deal with this mental health issue as part of our healthcare system is a big challenge and as we redo the healthcare plan, hopefully we will be able to do something more about mental health
coverage. >> behind the headlines: paying the poor to end poverty. brazil and mexico are using a controversial strategy that is turning heads around the world. in an effort to close the economic gap, they are paying poverty-stricken citizens. to the contrary examines how the program operates and whether it can work here in the united states. >> if you're a poor family, you will get a payment every month. your children have to be in school and have to have good school attendance certain workshops that are given such as nutrition or hygiene or mosquito control-things that would help the health of your family. you also have to make sure your family is up to date on their health clinics and if you don't do those things you don't get your payment. >> pulitzer prize winning journalist tina rosenberg is advocating these payments as a way to lessen and even end poverty.
in many circumstances, poverty is passed down from parent to child. and governments are trying to end this cycle with payments with conditions. >> this is a strategy known as conditional cash transfers, and it was started in mexico and brazil. and it has been so successful it is now used in over 40 countries around the world, almost every single country in latin american and many countries in other continents. and what it does is it attacks poverty now but it also does so in a way that aims to prevent parents from passing poverty to their children. the exciting thing about it is it has great potential to reduce poverty further for children in these families. >> education and health care are two ways latin american countries are closing the poverty gap. and women are being put at the forefront of their households, as governments trust them to uphold these requirements and providing for their families.
>> poor countries have generally only paid women because women will use the money to take care of children and families. you give the money to men and they will drink it away at the cantina. you give the money to the women they will use to buy more nutritious food fruits and vegetables and school shoes and things their families need. >> here in the us, the nation's income gap is the highest it's ever been. the top-earning 20 percent took home almost half of all the income generated in the us. a privately funded pilot initiative in new york city called, opportunity nyc, is testing conditional cash transfers in the united states. >> it would have to be very different in the united states because the poverty in the us is very different than poverty in
mexico or brazil, and the incentives that people would respond to would be very different. i wouldn't say it would work or won't work but i do think it is worth trying. >> we saw a little bit of conditional cash transfers. we tied wic, saying we'll give you three months of wic if you get your kids immunized and there have been some experiments with food stamps, for example, taking off of the requirements, giving people more flexibility but nothing at this level. >> i think it gives us an opportunity of how do we think about creating partnerships with families and government instead of government's telling parents how to spend their money and what measurement they do. this creates a partnership with the parents all feel like they are in control of what their family needs to do. and it also provides a special level of advocacy when you start giving parents that responsibility to ensure that not only their kids are going to school but creates a dialogue at the end of the day whether or not the kid is gaining the grades they deserve based on
again, the partnerships. >> right now our welfare system requires if you get on welfare, you have to start looking for a job almost immediately or get into the educational system. so there are aspects of this but not as directly as brazil and mexico. >> i think that's a problem. i worked at hhs as well and those programs and measures for children and families and that was all we did. i'm obviously very sensitive to that. but this really just borders on the ridiculous. i think that you -- there is no incentive for work here. that's the biggest difference. and we have to incentivize moms who want to work, who are willing to work, and give them a path to do that. i don't believe that getting them cash incentivizes work in this same way. >> let's look at where we are talking about. such an american knows best -- >> i'm talking about for here [overlapping speakers] >> let's make that distinction
because i don't think it will work here either. i think this is a jobs-based society. i think it's a brilliant third-world society and what shows it is that it is working. it defines generational poverty and when you send your kids to college where we see kids going to college and moving back home and lying on the couch. it says, you pass on poverty when your children don't go to school or when your children are malnourished. cash transfers have to occur with these very poor women any way that. they are not equipped to work and they are not jobs for them. so if they are going to be cash transfers, why not do something that benefits them, perhaps because you don't know it is just given to the male or to the family, benefits them and benefits the entire society. the fact that it's being used in 40 societies, that they are
doing controlled studies and that controlled studies have shown a difference between -- excuse me. between those who get the money and those who don't, should shut our mouths here. we haven't found a way to do a comparable thing. but until we find a way to do a comparable thing, we ought to just look, see what we can glean from this and maybe adapt it in an entirely new and american way for our own situation. >> in fact, the american way is to support people in work who have jobs. but those jobs don't pay enough to support their families. so child care, transportation, housing subsidies are the american equivalent. >> getting people back to work as well. talking about -- pullin points off you what said, we can glean information from this and learn from these things but they definitely do not work here. now talking to my girlfriend, a
democrat who lives in kansas and she was railing the other day. she is a mother of three. she married, has a good life and is a nurse and works so hard. she has so many people who have quit their jobs, gone on unemployment and sit on the couch. what is the incentive? where is the american dream? where is that belief in wanting to work -- [overlapping speakers] >> i think we missed the point. cash transfers are trying to teach people behavior. in this case, imagine if we incentivized women who have babies that they'll get $30 every time the kid gets vaccinated. you teach behavior and changing that behavior. so it's not a matter of incentive of whether people want to work or not, it's how do you change behavior they may not have realized. a kid that have vaccinated helps all of us. >> kids that have education in a developing country helps all of us. it creates markets.
we should be for education around the world. >> i think the point, the latter point the journalist made in that piece, there is obvious reasons why that won't work here. our poor is different than their poor. i don't believe it's government's role to change behavior. i think it's government's role to provide an environment that encourages certain behaviors that educate, that gives people the tools they need in order to be able to live more on their own, independently, and those are the types of things i think we should continue to do and equip americans with as they forge ahead and get jobs and being independent in societiy. that's the last word. that's it for this edition of to the contrary. next week our immigration special. check out our website for tpc extra, where our panelists discuss air brushed advertisements. whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary, please join us next week.
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